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Prepare for a Healthy New Year with Tips from Mental Health First Aid

As 2021 comes to an end, you may be reflecting on the year that has passed and planning for the year to come. This past year was challenging for many, but we now have the opportunity to refocus and have a fresh start. A new year can provide us with hope and, more importantly, a desire to change. In the coming weeks, you may want to reflect on positive changes you would like to see in yourself and use that information to establish meaningful resolutions for a healthy and happy new year.

Resolutions can be any type of goal, but often focus on health and wellbeing. As we continue to contend with the COVID-19 pandemic, this is especially true — CVS Health’s 2021 Health Care Insights Study reports 77% of people say the COVID-19 pandemic has led them to pay more attention to their wellbeing.

Wellbeing encompasses all aspects of a person’s life. According to Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), dimensions of wellbeing include environment, occupation, social life, education, and physical, emotional or financial health. In addition, achieving wellbeing should allow a person to perform well at work and in their studies and relationships. As you begin creating a New Year’s resolution, it’s important to think about what dimensions of wellbeing you would like to focus on to bring balance in your life. 

Examples of goals for your resolution might be to:

  1. Improve physical health by getting more sleep, eating healthy and exercising.
  2. Improve emotional health by practicing self-care, meditating, being more present, and addressing mental health.

It’s important to ensure that your resolutions are specific to what will help you most, that you aren’t taking on too much, and that your resolutions are realistic. By the end of January, less than 10% of us keep our resolutions, so for success, pick realistic, meaningful goals.  

If you plan to keep a New Year’s resolution, use these tips to help you get started:

  1. Write down your goals. Writing your resolution on a piece of paper will help make your goals more tangible and help you to remember them. After you’ve written your goals down, put them somewhere where you’ll see them often to keep them at the forefront of your mind and help you stay focused.
  2. Begin with a micro-step. Micro-steps are tiny actions you can take to achieve your goals. The point is to effortlessly create a habit that will fit into your schedule and slowly lead to more considerable change. Breaking your goals into micro-steps can also make them more realistic. For example, if your goal is to be more physically active, instead of starting with going to the gym every day, resolve to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or to walk to work instead of driving. Establishing these habits and building on them incrementally will ultimately lead to more significant change and help you keep your resolution in the process.
  3. Start right now! Healthy habits can be picked up any time of the year. You don’t have to wait for New Year’s Day. Focus on the present and start your commitment to change as soon as possible to get a head start on your resolution!

As you work on your resolution, you may encounter setbacks along the way — but remember this is a journey. Take time to understand and reflect on the challenges you face so you can work harder to overcome them. There are limitless possibilities for change in the new year. All you have to do is be willing to work for them.

For more tips on how you can prepare for the New Year, check out these blogs from Mental Health First Aid:

  1. Realistic New Year’s Resolutions for Your Mental Health
  2. How You Can Put Your Mental Health First in the New Year

Sources:

CVS Health. (2021, July 8). New CVS Health Study finds people are taking greater control of their health as a result of the pandemic. CVS Health. https://cvshealth.com/news-and-insights/press-releases/new-cvs-health-study-finds-people-are-taking-greater-control-of.

Hilgendorff, G. (2019, November 15). How to prepare yourself for a healthy New Year. Thrive Global. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/how-to-prepare-yourself-for-a-healthy-new-year/.

Homewood Health. (n.d.). Preparing for the New Year: Maintaining Your Mental Health. uwaterloo.ca. https://uwaterloo.ca/employee-assistance-program/sites/ca.employee-assistance-program/files/uploads/files/preparing_for_the_new_year_en_homewood.pdf.

Mental Health First Aid USA. 2020. Mental Health First Aid USA for Adults Assisting Adults. Washington, DC: National Council for Behavioral Health.